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Essential Reads

 Woman reading Essential Reads

» A Culture that Engages Every Family, Steven M. Constantino, Ed.D.

» How to Revitalize Your School-Parent Compact, Marilyn Price-Mitchell, Ph.D.

» How Do You Know if You're Really Open to Partnership, Anne Henderson & Karen Mapp

»PTA--Gateway to Engagement, Advocacy, and Access, Meryl Ain, Ed.D.

» The Power of Asking-Instead of Telling, Jody McVittie, M.D.

» Empathy in Action, Rick Ackerly, Ed.M.

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Do You Know What�s Going on in Your Children�s Schools?

By Meryl Ain, Ed.D.

school busBefore we turn around, summer will be over and children will be headed back to school. It’s time to think about your involvement and engagement in the new school year. Will your involvement lessen, increase, or stay the same? It’s typical for parents to be very involved when their kids are in the early grades, but become less engaged as they enter secondary school.

With high stakes testing, budget cuts, bullying, and so many other issues nowadays, there’s good reason to become more engaged -- both in your children’s schools and in the governance of the district at large.

How informed a parent are you?

Here’s a pop quiz for parents. There are no trick questions!


1. How would you characterize your relationship to the professionals in your children’s school(s)?

a. I know the names of my children’s teachers, principal, and central office staff, but do not interact with them.

b. have a cordial relationship with them, and am comfortable contacting them about issues or problems.

c. I resent their salaries and benefits.

d. I don’t interact with them.


2. How would you describe your involvement in your PTA and district?

a. I attend PTA and Board of Education meetings and take an active part.

b. My spouse attends some meetings, talks to the PTA president, and keeps me informed.

c. I’ve been to a couple, but think these meetings are a waste of time.

d. I have no idea when meetings are held and never attend them.


3. How do you get information about your school and district?

a. I check school and district websites on a regular basis.

b. I read local newspapers and online media, check school and district websites, and speak to teachers, administrators, and Board of Education members.

c. I am generally too busy to keep informed, but if there’s an issue I speak to my neighbors.

d. I don’t get involved in politics and have no idea of what’s going on.


4. How involved were you in the 2012-2013 budget process?

a. I followed issues in local media, and voted.

b. I regularly attended budget and Board of Education meetings.

c. I was not involved, but I did not like the excessive spending.

d. I was too busy with family and work to pay attention.


5. How satisfied are you with the quality of education in your school district?

a. I am very pleased with my children’s teachers, but am concerned about cuts to educational programs.

b. I moved here because of the district’s reputation, and my children are flourishing.

c. My taxes are rising and I’m not so sure it’s worth it, but I don’t have time to find out what’s going on.

d. I am dissatisfied and disillusioned, but don’t know how to change things.


6. If your child were a victim of bullying in school, what would you do?

a. I would speak to my child’s teacher and brainstorm solutions and strategies.

b. I would check the school’s bullying policy, and would ask for a meeting with the teacher, principal, and guidance counselor.

c. I would complain to my friends.

d. I would do nothing, and hope that it would stop.


7. How familiar are you with the various acronyms used by educators in schools, such as NCLB, RTTT, CSE, AYP, etc.?

a. I make it my business to google all terms with which I am not familiar.

b. I ask my principal and teacher what they mean.

c. It personally annoys me that they can’t speak English, but I am too embarrassed to admit I don’t know what they’re talking about.

d. It’s all alphabet soup to me, and I don’t pay attention.


 Answer Key:

 If you answered mostly a’s and b’s, Congratulations -- you are an involved parent!

If your answers were mostly c’s and d’s, it’s time you got more involved in your children’s education. Research indicates that the more parents are involved in their child’s schools, the more successful their child will be.


Photo Credit: basheertome

Posted on July 19, 2012 by Meryl Ain, Ed.D.

Dr. Meryl Ain has worked in several large New York school districts as a central office administrator, teacher, and school building administrator. She writes about education and parenting for Huffington Post, several other publications, and on her blog. You can also follow her on Twitter.

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